Trust, Empathy, and Dialogue

This research cluster aims to provide a forum for conversation and research on issues surrounding empathy in international cooperation and conflict and establishes a platform for current and future multidisciplinary research on trust, empathy, and dialogue. The cluster brings together research by Professor Nicholas Wheeler, the Institute’s Director, and affiliated members of the Institute, Professor Lynne Cameron (Open University) and Dr Naomi Head (University of Glasgow). 

Professor Lynne Cameron


Professor Lynne Cameron is Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Open University and ESRC Global Uncertainties Research Fellow. Her current project under this programme is ‘Living with Uncertainty: Metaphor and the dynamics of empathy”, which is constructing a new model of empathy in dialogue and interaction, using findings from empirical studies in UK, USA, and Brazil. The model is dynamic and multi-level, connecting emotion-based responses in face-to-face interaction with longer term individual and social processes of understanding the Other, and shifts in perceived relations between Self and Other. The first version of the model was developed through analysis of post-conflict reconciliation conversations between Patrick Magee, the former IRA bomber, and Jo Berry, whose father was killed in the Brighton bombing in 1984. This study is reported in Metaphor and Reconciliation (Cameron, 2011). The most recent version of the model is being written up for publication and can be seen on the project website

Ideas from the project are disseminated on The Empathy Blog


Key Publications:

Cameron, L. & I. B. Seu (in press), Landscapes of empathy: Spatial scenarios, metaphors and metonymies in responses to distant suffering. Text & Talk.

Cameron, L. (2011) Metaphor and Reconciliation. Routledge, New York.

Cameron, L. and R. Maslen (2010) Using metaphor analysis to compare expert and public perceptions of the risk of terrorism. In L. Cameron and R. Maslen (eds) Metaphor analysis: Research practice in applied linguistics, social sciences, and the humanities. pp 248-256. London: Equinox.

Cameron, L. Maslen, R., Todd, Z., Maule, J., Stratton, & N. Stanley. (2009) The discourse dynamics approach to metaphor and metaphor-led discourse analysis. Metaphor & Symbol, 24, 1-27.

Maule, J., Stratton, P., Cameron, L., Todd, Z., Maslen, R., Sandberg, T. & N. Stanley. (2007) How Muslims and non-Muslims think about terrorist risk. Islam, Politics and Security in the UK. Chatham House, ISP/NSC Briefing Paper 07/01.

Cameron L. (2007) Patterns of metaphor use in reconciliation talk. Discourse and Society, 18(2), 197-222. 

Working papers available here

Cameron, L. (2010) Empathy: A Review. Living with Uncertainty, Working Paper 1.

Cameron, L. (2010) Metaphor, Reconciliation and the Dynamics of Empathy. Living with Uncertainty, Working Paper 2.

Cameron, L. (2011) Empathy in talk: A Model and some methodological considerations. Living with Uncertaint, Working Paper 3.

Cameron, L. (2012) Comparing responses to violence and uncertainty in Brazil and the UK: Background to a collaborative project. Living with Uncertainty, Working Paper 4.

Cameron, L. (2012) Dyspathy: The dynamic complement of empathy. Living with Uncertainty, Working Paper 5.

Dr. Naomi Head


Dr Naomi Head is a Lecturer of Politics at the University of Glasgow and an Honorary Research Fellow in Communication and Conflict at ICCS. Her research in this field developed out of an ESRC-funded workshop which was hosted at Aberystwyth University in June 2010 on ‘New Approaches to Conflict Transformation: Trust, Empathy and Dialogue’. The workshop saw the launch of a network of multidisciplinary scholars and practitioners. The thematic concerns of both the workshop and wider research agenda are oriented towards understanding the impact of these ideas on conflict transformation. Her research explores the centrality of these concepts to understandings of sanctuary; negotiations; mediation; the threat or use of force; communicative ethics, and non-violent conflict transformation. It seeks to explore how these concepts might serve as both analytical tools and normative guides to action in international politics and conflict transformation. An essential element to widening the debate on these issues in International Relations is developing an understanding of the relational aspects of trust, empathy, and dialogue in both theoretical and empirical terms. As part of this research agenda, she is currently working with Professor Wheeler on a project exploring the role of these concepts in the EU-3 negotiations with Iran from 2003-6.

If you are interested in joining the Trust, Empathy, and Dialogue Network (TEDNet) to receive further information on current projects or to contribute to the network, then please email Dr Naomi Head at

Key Publications:

Head, N. (2012). ‘The Contribution of Trust, Empathy, and Dialogue: Talking to Iran’, conference paper presented at Iran’s Nuclear Programme – Assessing the Options for Cooperation and Conflict, Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security, University of Birmingham, April 25

Head, N. (2012). Justifying Violence: Communicative Ethics and the use of force in Kosovo (Manchester University Press: Manchester)

Head, N. (2012). ‘Transforming relations with Iran: the missing dimension of the ‘moral imagination’’, Interventions, Centre for International Intervention, Vol. 1, Issue 2, University of Surrey

Head, N. (2012). ‘Transforming Conflict: Trust, Empathy, and Dialogue’, (under review)

Head, N. (2010). Rapporteur’s report on the workshop, ‘New Approaches to Conflict Transformation: Trust, Empathy, and Dialogue’, Aberystwyth University, 23-24 June

The cluster’s future goals include further collaborative research on the negotiations surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme and the establishment of a wider network which brings together Head’s TEDNet and Cameron’s Empathy Network to establish an interdisciplinary and vibrant forum of scholars and practitioners.



New summer intern appointed to Trust Empathy and Dialogue (TED) research